How a full lunar eclipse saved the life of Christopher Columbus

How a full lunar eclipse saved the life of Christopher Columbus

On Monday, people celebrated Columbus Day in the United States, but did you know that there was moonlight irony on the journey of a famous traveler?

On October 12, 1492, Columbus reached the coast and landed on an island northeast of Cuba, which he later called San Salvador (Holy Savior). Over the next 10 years, Columbus will make more than three journeys to the "new world." On his fourth and final voyage, while walking along the coast of Central America, Columbus found himself in a difficult situation.

He left the city of Cadiz (Spain) on May 11, 1502 on the ships Capitana, Gallega, Vizcaína and Santiago de Palos. Unfortunately, because of the worries of the shipworms that pierced the skin of the fleet, Columbus was forced to abandon his two ships, eventually the two remaining caravels stranded on the north coast of the island on June 25, 1503, now known as Jamaica.

Initially, the indigenous people (the Indians of the Arawak tribe) welcomed the crashed, providing them with food and shelter, but the days passed into weeks, the tension increased. Finally, after six months, after they ran aground, half the crew of Columbus started a mutiny. They began to rob and kill Arawak, who stopped giving away their grown cassava, maize and fish in exchange for small tin whistles, key rings, hawk bells and other trinkets. To avoid hunger, Columbus formulated a desperate, albeit brilliant plan. He was rescued by Admiral Johannes Muller von Koenigsberg (1436-1476), known by his Latin pseudonym, Regiomontanus. He was a famous German mathematician, astronomer and astrologer. Before his death, Regiomontanus published its almanac, containing astronomical tables covering the period 1475-1506.

The Regiomontanus almanac was of great importance for navigation, in its astronomical tables detailed information was provided about the Sun, the Moon and the planets, as well as the most important stars and constellations. After its publication, not a single sailor could do without a copy of it. With it, researchers could leave their usual routes and go to unknown seas in search of new lands.

Of course, a copy of the almanac was at Columbus when he came to Jamaica. Studying the tables, he soon discovered that on Thursday evening February 29, 1504, there would be a total lunar eclipse during sunrise.

Armed with this knowledge, three days before the eclipse, Columbus asked to meet with the leader Aravakov and told him that the Christian God was very angry with his people because they did not give them any more food. Thus, he was going to give a clear sign of his indignation: in three nights the rising moon will destroy everything around, giving the impression of "inflamed anger" which will soon be directed at them.

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